LA CROSSE, Wis. - Kong Vue, 20, and Pao Choua Vue, 21, were found to be equally responsible for their roles in the March 26 shooting death of 20-year-old Sara Hougom.
On Monday, La Crosse County circuit judge Todd Bjerke sentenced both men to 35 years in prison. Kong Vue will also serve 20 years of extended supervision after his release. Pao Choua Vue will serve 15 years of extended supervision.
Friends and family of Hougom, a La Crosse college student, packed into the courtroom to remember her life and reflect on her loss.
"There are days when I could start crying at any second and find myself feeling so upset and angry asking why her?" said Paige Roth-Smith, one of Hougom's childhood friends.
"Why would anyone take the life of a beautiful and innocent and perfect human being?" she added.
Hougom's parents relived the nightmare of getting the phone call that their daughter was at the hospital fighting for her life. Both had been text messaging with her just minutes before she was shot.
"I screamed: no, no, no," said Sherry Hougom, Sara's mother.17279140
"I said it over and over again. No, no, no. Who would shoot my baby? No, no, no. And I had to hear those awful words again and again: your daughter's been shot," she added.
Investigators say Kong Vue admitted that he went into Hougom's apartment to steal money and shot in her direction when he saw someone move. Pao Choua Vue was allegedly out in the car at the time.
"They never took the purse they said they were there after, sped off, (and) had every opportunity to make a 911 call and save her life," said Michael Hougom, Sara's father.
"Every second was precious and they knew it," he added.
Before being sentenced, both Vue's apologized for their roles in Hougom's death.
"I have two children of my own and I wouldn't know what I'd do if I were to lose one," said Kong Vue.
"That's why I can only imagine the pain that has been dealt upon you all. Words can't explain how sorry I feel for you all but for what it's worth, I'm sorry," he added.
"I've dishonored my family and my people," said Pao Choua Vue.
"With the time I'm given, I will reflect on the mistakes I've made and will work towards being a better person. Everyday I regret what I have done and I'll have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life," he added.
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